Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Update on One Word

So in this post from about a month ago, I shared that instead of resolutions, I had chosen one word to focus on for the entire year.  (There is much more in depth explanation about what that means in the One Word post, if you want to read that first, I can wait here...)

To start the year focused on grace, I am learning what grace means.  This word is used many times throughout the Bible and there are various definitions of the word. Merriam-Webster defines grace several ways. For my purposes, I am not talking about the blessing before a meal or the way one carries themselves but more in this way, "unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification", "a virtue coming from God", "a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace", "disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency."  And then there is this one, "a temporary exemption: reprieve."  And while thankfully God's grace is not temporary, it is just that an exemption or reprieve.  

When I was in ninth grade, my high school had exam exemptions.  The way to be exempt was to keep your grades up, do your assignments, and not be absent from school.  (Standardized tests were the exception, you had to take those no matter what- just in case you were about to call foul.)  But to be exempt from the exam relied on you, the student.  You had to put in the effort throughout the semester and at the end you were rewarded because you earned it.  But we can't earn God's grace because it's a gift!

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."   We don't have to "put in the work" to become exempt from a life separated from God.  Jesus did the work already!  We have to have faith, and through that faith in Jesus Christ, God extends grace and cleanses us from the sin and mistakes we make.

We have it all wrong if we think that we have to live our lives pleasing to God and then we expect him to give us grace.  Grace comes first, then we choose to obey- and not because we are striving for more grace, but because we are so thankful for God's grace to begin with!

Grace is a gift.  There is nothing I did to earn it when I first believed.  There is nothing I do to earn it currently.  And there is nothing I can ever do to deserve it. 

And the more I have been focused on extending grace to others in my life when they really don't deserve it, the more thankful I am to God for giving it to me.  But more on that later.

For now, I'll leave you with lyrics to the song that has been playing in my head the whole time I've been typing:

Grace Greater Than Our Sin
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary's mount out-poured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
threaten the soul with infinite loss;
grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
brighter than snow you may be today.

 Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

Love in Christ, 

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